(director: Luke Greenfield; screenwriters: Jason Shuman/Eduardo Cisneros/story by Ali Roi & Eduardo Cisneros); cast: Juan Pablo Espinosa (Flavio), (Connor Del Rio(Asher), Luis Gerardo Ménde Renato), Bianca Marroquin (Tere Murguía), Pia Watson (Pamela), Ashley Poole (Katherine), Ian Inigo (Young Renata), Mike Salazar (Emilio), José Zúñiga (Evaristo), Vincent Spano (Mr. B), Shira Scott Astrof (American Reporter), Catherine Haun (Older Nun); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Luke Greenfield, Jason Shuman, Eduardo Cisneros, Jason Benoit; Focus Features; 2020)
“A sentimental juvenile buddy comedy that lacks taste and humor but might have a heart I’m not giving enough credit for.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A sentimental juvenile buddy comedy that lacks taste and humor but might have a heart I’m not giving enough credit for (actually I doubt that). It’s a soggy bromance by director Luke Greenfield (“Let’s Be Cops“) and writers Jason Shuman and Eduardo Cisneros, from a story by Ali Roi and Cisneros. It’s about a tense Mexican aviation executive Renato (Luis Gerardo Méndez) and his secret nerdy younger free-spirited American brother, Asher (Connor Del Rio), that he never knew about and how they finally met.
When in the ’90s amid a recession in Mexico, Renato’s loving engineer father, Flavio (Juan Pablo Espinosa), who inspired Renato in his love of planes, never comes back to his wife and family in Mexico after working in the United States. One day, after a long time away, his father’s current wife, the American, Katherine (Ashley Poole), calls the adult Renato, a hater of the States, to tell him his sick father is in the hospital and wishes to see him in Chicago. After meeting his playful father, a lover of games, Flavio introduces the surprised and embittered Renato to his unknown unemployed, grating, ginger-haired brother Asher and sends the two of them on a distant scavenger hunt together in Asher’s Mercedes, whereby they look for a key, a pawnshop ticket, a combination safe and like “Rosebud,” in Citizen Kane, dad’s answer to his riddle of “Eloise.” Dad promises he will reveal all secrets after the game, as he wants his stranger sons to spend some time together and get to know each other by bonding.
The lessons learned are: Asher learns to stick up for himself while Renato, about to marry Pamela (Pia Watson) and become a stepfather to her nonverbal son Emilio (Mike Salazar), tries to see if he can give more empathy to his stepchild.
If this slight film was any more slight, it would vanish (the gags don’t work, stereotyping each country with digs was insulting, the messages seem blank and the film seems as dumb as a Mexican-USA border dispute over racism). It sends a message (to me a futile one) about immigration policies keeping families apart.
I found that this plot hardly explains why dad never contacted his family in all his time away. It’s also hard to like characters who are not likable and a film that’s so poorly executed.
REVIEWED ON 1/12/2021 GRADE: C